The Water-Activated Oak Tree Mural in Hartford
As part of the statewide City Canvas public art program, Adam Niklewicz’s water-activated oak tree mural was unveiled last month in downtown Hartford, Connecticut.
The brick around the tree is weather-treated. The area of the tree drawing is not. When the wall gets wet, the bricks in the tree-drawing area become soaked and dark and the treated bricks do not, causing the image to appear sharply on the wall. [Source: Hartford Courant]
The image of the tree is from a famous painting by Charles DeWolf Brownell entitled, The Charter Oak, from 1857. The mural measures 30ft in height by 45 feet in length. The entire wall is about 37ft tall and 125 ft wide.
To create the artwork, Niklewicz, along with his assitant J.D. Richey, cut a massive rubber stencil of the Charter Oak in a studio and then affixed the stencil to the building’s facade (located at 215 Pearl Street). The building used to be a synagogue, which was vacated and deconsecrated in 1986.
The mural is equipped with two lawn sprinkler systems. There are three heads on the bottom and two hanging from the roof. While a heavy rainstorm mixed with the right wind power and angle could reveal the tree, the sprinklers turn on for about 20 minutes every day at 3pm to insure the image shows clearly. Depending on weather conditions (humidity is a plus), the mural can remain visible from several hours afterwards all the way to the next morning.
After the installation runs its course (no specific date has been set), the wall can be easily returned to its original state.
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